Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book Review: The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech



Have you ever read a book that expressed your own niggling feelings? That is what this book did for me. Author Kirsten Powers offers example after example of how the “illiberal” left tries to silence those with whom they disagree. She defines “illiberals” as those who consider themselves liberals but act in direct contradiction to the fundamental liberal values of free speech, debate and dissent. While hawking tolerance for all, illiberals are most intolerant to those who differ with their stance.

How often do you hear something in the news—an off-handed comment, a minor disturbance—that has been blown out of proportion? Powers, who labels herself a liberal, discusses why this happens and the goal of those behind such exaggerations.

Did you know some universities, where debating opposing viewpoints should be the norm, now require professors to publish “trigger warnings” in their syllabi? These are topics for discussion that may make some students uncomfortable, so students may opt out of class for such sessions. Some colleges have established “free speech zones,” where students must register in advance to promote or discuss a viewpoint.

Powers, who is a USA Today columnist and a Fox News contributor, discusses feminist attacks on conservatives and the “rape culture” created by illiberal feminists. The book includes 68 pages of notes along with a 16-page index. It’s a must read for those who look for ways to counter attacks on our freedoms and who long for commonsense to triumph in today’s pluralistic world.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Meet the Author: Michelle Lazurek

Author Michelle Lazurek

Dear Friends,

I would like to introduce you to a writing friend of mine, Michelle Lazurek. Michelle and I met some years ago when we both participated in a Wellsboro BookFest. Since we both write inspirational books, we stayed connected. Tonight, 9 to 10 p.m. Eastern, she is hosting a Facebook Launch Party for two new children's books--Daddy, Am I Beautiful and Mommy, Am I Strong?

Michelle is is a pastor’s wife, a mother, an author, and a speaker from Coudersport, PA. A member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, she has been published in numerous places such as Charisma Magazine and Movieguide Magazine. Her newest book An Invitation to the Table explores hospitality and discipleship. For more information, Please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com.  

1. Tell me a little about yourself, Michelle:
I am a writer, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. I've been in ministry for over fifteen years. I'm married to my wonderful husband Joe for fifteen years and have two children, Caleb and Leah.

2. How did you become a writer?
I've often said that I didn't choose writing; writing chose me. In 2009, while attending a women's retreat, I felt God impress upon my heart to write a book. I had never written anything before in my life. I was terrified! I prayed and asked God what he wanted me to write about, and I began to notice in the gospel of John how many times John referred to himself as "the disciple ‘Whom Jesus loved.'" As I researched, I found no one had written anything about that topic. That’s when my first book "Becoming the Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" was born. I've been writing ever since.

3.What kind of difficulties have you experienced as a pastor’s wife, and how did you handle those difficulties? When you are in a position of power, there will always be people who try to take advantage of that power. It’s especially tough when you are in a place of spiritual power. The enemy will always seek to knock you own, using the same people who praise with you on a Sunday morning. Besides loneliness, that’s the hardest part about being a pastor’s wife--those within your congregation who don’t treat you with the same level of mutual respect because they believe things should be handled or organized differently. 

4.You have two new children’s books that have just been released. Tell me what they are about.
When my daughter was four years old, she would spend hours parading in front of my husband, twirling around in her princess dresses and asking Daddy, Am I Beautiful? I realized in that moment that is the cry of every young girls heartto be told by her father she is beautiful. My book explores the concept of self-esteem from a young girls perspective and teaches them that it is not whats on the outside that makes you beautiful, but whats on the inside. Mommy Am I Strong? is written for boys and explores the concept of their self-esteem. Boys want to be seen as strong and use their strength to prove their worth. This book teaches that true strength comes from the inside, not on the outside.



5. What lesson would you like young girls and boys take away from your childrens books?
Society is tough to raise Christian men and women in, especially for women. In this overly sexualized world, we tend to teach girls that their value in life comes from exploiting their bodies for others pleasure. I want girls to feel they are more than that. I want them to come away with the confidence that their worth does not come from their body type, but from Gods approval of them just as they are. With the increasing popularity of superheroes, boys are taught early that their worth comes from their strength I want young boys to believe that even someone with a disability can be strong because of their ability to display humility and grace in the face of trials.



6. What are some upcoming projects?

I have a non-fiction book on hospitality titled An Invitation to the Table: Embracing the Gift of Hospitality that releases in spring of 2016. 

Thanks, Michelle. I know my readers appreciate the direction your books offer.

If you want to connect with Michelle's Launch Party tonight, log into Facebook and paste this link in the url line: 
Have a blessed day--and don't forget to read something. Or write something.

Shirley

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Four Ways to Clear Your Spiritual Vision


During the last two weeks, I had cataract surgery on both eyes. It was time, since I had increasing difficulty reading road signs. The first surgery on my left eye went well. Then I discovered that when I wore my glasses, the vision of my left eye was blurred; but without my glasses, the vision of my right eye was blurred. I was totally unbalanced. People suggested I take out a lens from my glasses, but that resulted in double vision. The doctor explained both eyes work together and until I would have surgery on my right eye, I would not be able to see clearly.

So one week later, I had surgery on my right eye. What a difference. And it’s only been a few days since the second surgery. The type of my computer appears boldfaced; I can already read road signs. The distance vision with my left eye seems perfect, while my right eye seems just a notch away from focusing. Amazing!

Wouldn’t it be great to have our spiritual vision so drastically improved? Seems there are always gray areas in life in which we lack focus. Is it OK to do this or that? Which perspective is right? Here are four guidelines I follow to clear my spiritual vision:

1.  What does God’s Word say about the issue? And I don’t mean one proof text. You can find a verse in the Bible to support most any position. But what is the overall tenor of the Bible on this issue? Take, for instance, the Sabbath. The Old Testament had strict guidelines about what could and could not be done on the Sabbath. Jesus allowed doing good on the Sabbath. And we have freedom in Christ. But does that mean we are free to shop, mow grass, etc.? How can we best honor God on Sundays in a world that largely ignores Him? Just asking.

2.  What do God’s people say about an issue? As we listen to sermons, participate in Bible study discussions and chat with other Christians, how do they feel about this issue? Christianity is lived in community. How is this issue seen across denominations? No one person (or group) has a corner on truth, so listen to sermons, chat with neighbors. You never know who God might use to bring clarity to an area with which you wrestle. Remember, God spoke to Balaam through a donkey.

3.  What does God’s Spirit say about an issue? Jiminy Cricket said, “Let your conscience be your guide.” The only trouble with that is that our consciences are shaped by our cultures. However, if we prayerfully approach an issue, God’s Spirit can whisper to our hearts if we quiet ourselves to listen. Sometimes I sit quietly at the end of my devotional time and write down what I feel God is saying to me.

4. Do my thoughts about this issue draw me closer to God or erect a barrier in my relationship with God? If my response to this issue pulls me away from God, I probably should not pursue it. If it draws me closer to God, that is always a good thing.

That may sound a bit simplistic. And the world has become quite complex. I still do not have 20/20 vision on the Sabbath issue. But while I may never achieve perfect focus this side of heaven, I can see well enough to read many of the directional signs along the way.

As always, I value hearing any suggestions you might add. To leave a comment, click on the link at the bottom of the page, which will lead you to the website of my blog where you can scroll down to the comments box.

Have a blessed month.

Shirley

Upcoming Engagements:
September 8, Noon – Speaking at Philipsburg Christian Women’s Club.
September 9, Noon – Speaking at Altoona Christian Women’s Club.
September 10, Noon – Speaking at Johnstown Christian Women’s Club.